Police in Waco, Texas have arrested a teenager in connection with the shooting of a gay man. Investigators say he used a dating app to target gay men, lure them into seclusion, and then shoot them.
The Waco Tribune reports that officers have named Damarion Trammell Degrate, 17, as a suspect in connection with three different shootings of gay men on August 17. At present, prosecutors have only formally charged Degrate in one case. All three cases involve use of a fake profile on an unnamed gay dating app used to lure victims into a secluded area.
Police arrested Degrate on Friday. Charges against him state that he met his victim on the dating app on August 16. The next day, he requested a ride from his victim, who picked him up at his Landmark Drive home, where he lived with his grandmother. The pair then drove to a remote location under the auspice of buying drugs.
“After being gone for several minutes, the defendant (Degrate) returned to the vehicle where the victim was waiting, opened the passenger door and shot the victim in the chest at point-blank range,” according to legal affidavits. “The victim was able to drive off and eventually stop at a gas station less than one mile away.” Said victim remains in the hospital in critical condition.
Following the first encounter, police also allege that Degrate used the same phone to arrange a meeting with 23-year-old Jonathan Breeding about two hours later. Breeding was also shot in the chest at point-blank range, and died shortly thereafter. Investigators have further named Degrate in a third similar shooting that same night. The victim in that case was also shot in the chest after meeting his assailant on the same gay dating app.
“We identified early in the investigation a link between the three shootings and the danger this suspect presented to our community,” Interim Waco Police Chief Frank Gentsch said in a statement. “The arrest today was the result of our Special Crimes Detectives’ tireless efforts, along with our support staff, including our Crime Scene Unit and Computer Forensic Unit. I also want to thank the FBI and the United States Marshal Service for their assistance in these cases.”
“We continue to caution our citizens when using dating applications, in particular those that cater to the LGBTQ+ community,” he added. “We strongly recommend arranging online dating meetings in public venues.”